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300 (DVD)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey and David Wenham's voice. (The rest of David Wenham is in it as well but it's his pleasant-but-weird accent that you'll really remember).

Rated: 15.

Story: Three hundred Spartans take on tens of thousands of Persians in the Battle of Thermopylae while wearing nothing but cloaks and loincloths. And then... No, hang on, that's about it, actually.

Comments: Back in my youth, Sunday afternoon wasn't complete without some sword-and-sandals epic plugging a large hole in TV schedules between the farming programmes and Songs of Praise. They were generally lavish, plodding and in a slightly odd colour. They also tended to be less gory than the public service announcements in the middle of Farming Diary. (Maybe that was just in Norfolk, though. It's possible that the rest of the world doesn't need to be told to avoid repairing heavy machinery while it's still running...)

You don't get so many sandy extravaganzas these days. There's been Gladiator and Troy but not much else. Perhaps too many people, like me, just think back to long, rainy Sunday afternoons and sigh at the thought. I couldn't bring myself to get excited about 300. All I could imagine was pontificating in togas and a bit of spear waving.

I was wrong.

300 replaces the lavish sets of yesteryear with a couple of rocks, three pillars and a stack of CGI but it ups the action a hundred-fold and delivers more rampaging men in loincloths than a Tarzan convention and more dismemberment than a carelessly unjammed combine harvester. (In an attempt to replicate the style of the original graphic novel, it does retain the traditional slightly odd colour, though.)

The result is an action film more gripping than any number of the identikit space operas and espionage thrillers that have been churned out over the last couple of decades.

Give it a shot.

Conclusion: Made on the cheap but with such style you won't notice.

Explosions: A few, thanks to the Persians' supply of hand-grenades. (No, really...)
Muscles: Everywhere.
Lunatics in loincloths: Three hundred.
Body count: Astronomical.
Hilarious cameos by a rhino: One.

Rating: 4/5.

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